Neil deGrasse Tyson spoke with passion about what’s become of the United States space program, and why, on a recent episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. Here’s the clip:
When Tyson claims, “We stopped dreaming,” he refers to the shift in the United States’ culture away from both imagining and striving for and actually achieving the future and instead assigning greater import to near-term, more immediately graspable concerns. In other words, worrying about the fourth quarter and not the next quarter century.
The idea stayed with me, though in a different, more personal context.
Lately, circumstances has me thinking about how easy it is to downgrade the importance of life’s enriching ambitions in the face of the short-term obligations and assumed responsibilities around which we build increasingly powerful routines and habits. The tragedy is that it’s likely for most of us that the really important things we’d hoped to do will not even be started by the time we drop dead.
Rather than completing, or even beginning, the grand ambition of their life, most people will die having accomplished a million tiny, practical things that did nothing whatsoever to fuel their soul, respond to the call of their dreams, or establish a legacy.
How many grocery lists can one complete in a lifetime, compared to the items checked off on a bucket list? How many forgotten and often immediately unimportant projects can you finish on behalf of your employer compared to the number of novels written, paintings painted, or countries visited?
How easy is it for you to de-prioritize your dreams in favor of things you “have” to do, until, finally, you forget to dream at all?
Your Dreams Get A Line On The To-Do List
It’s dangerously easy to put your dreams aside to address the mounting demands of the everyday. How to avoid it?
Simply, we must make tending to our dreams part of the everyday. Working on your dreams and passions needs to just be another one of those things you do, little by little, every single day… like weeding the side yard. You must believe that nurturing your dreams is just as important as feeding the pets, watering the lawn, or helping your kids with their homework or your spouse with the dishes.
We all have responsibilities and obligations to others… but your dreams and ambitions constitute a responsibility to yourself, and an obligation to your memory. If you assign an importance to your dreams at least equal to being gainfully employed at a job you care for not at all, and you follow through, you’ll fulfill an obligation to the person you’ll be moments before you die, when you look back and ask yourself if you made the most of the time you just ran out of.
Don’t let that person down. They have nothing else to live for.
How Are You Tending To Your Dreams?
When was the last time you remembered to dream? What are you doing to feed your dreams? Where on the list of obligations and responsibilities real and assumed have you placed the most important things in your life — the things that you’ll wish you had accomplished when you draw your last breath?
Tell me, tell the world, in the comments.